Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Surviving Winter Running

I'm not sure about the rest of the country but the Middle Atlantic region sure is cold right now. We are seeing temps that I'm not sure I've ever seen while living in southern Pennsylvania (I'm sure it's been this cold before, I just don't remember it). While the actual temperature is not by any means warm or even comfortable it is the wind chill that is making it feel so darn cold outside.

I had a 30 minute hill repeat run scheduled for today that involves 3 minutes of complete rest after each repeat. After 4 repeats my legs were so cold I could barely feel them. I ran inside and grabbed an extra pair of pants to throw on to finish my run. What ultimately made today's run so unbearable was the combination of being improperly dressed and the wind. There were gusts of wind over 30 mph! Since the next few days are supposed to remain just as cold I thought it would be helpful for everyone to discuss some of my favorite cold weather running tips.

Dress properly
This one seems pretty obvious but it is still important. I get much warmer than most people when I run so I wear a lot off than others. Makes sense. When the temps first dropped back in December I started following the generic rules of what to wear for each temperature. I frequently found myself overheating and as a result becoming dizzy and even nauseous. I started experimenting with what I wore and have since come up with up with my own rules about what to wear. The point is, dress appropriately so that you are comfortable regardless of whether that means wearing lots of layers or no layers.

Treat yourself to a hot shower or mug of hot chocolate/tea after your run
Knowing that I will be all snuggly warm enjoying my favorite winter beverage helps motivate me to get off my butt and get outside. Sure hot chocolate is great even if you haven't gone out for a run but just think about how much better it will taste after braving the cold temps so get your workout in. The same goes for showers.

Pick a route that goes by your car or house within the first few miles/minutes
The thing I hate most about running in the winter is those first few minutes before you get warmed up when you are absolutely freezing and wondering what the hell you are doing outside when it is 23 degrees out. I have a tendency to overdress so that I am not so dang cold in the very beginning. But then once I'm warmed up I'm way too warm and my run is pretty miserable. I've started wearing enough so that I'm warm in the beginning and then taking off a layer and dropping it at my car once I'm at a comfortable temperature. Wearing a jacket or top with pockets also really helps with this.

Minimize expectations when it is both cold and windy
I can handle the cold and I can handle the wind but I'm a wimp when it comes to both of them put together. When it is cold and windy I have a lot of trouble breathing which affects my running a lot (duh!). If I have to go out for a run during this kind of weather I make it short and easy. I tried running at a harder clip in the cold wind last week and felt like I was hyperventilating. It's just not worth it. Either slow down or go inside.

What are your cold weather running tips?
How cold is it where you live?

1 comment :

  1. I hear ya! My temps in the Midwest have been in the teens and twenties. So cold!! I often get too warm during a run too, so I've started layering less on my body. Either a tee shirt or long sleeve with a light (but warm and comfy!) fleece over it. The most important thing that keeps me going is good gloves and a thick headband over my ears.

    SPA <3